Some 150 young entrepreneurs, economic leaders and drivers of socio-economic change from Europe’s Southern Neighbourhood have set out their most urgent priorities for policy makers in the region and in the EU, to overcome barriers to higher economic growth and job creation.

The European Commission organised a first edition of ‘EU Med means business’ – Shaping the future of entrepreneurship in the South’ on 21-22 May in Brussels with parallel events in Tunis (Tunisia), Cairo (Egypt), Irdib (Jordan) and Rabat (Morocco). The participants developed recommendations to policy makers, and then voted in order to identify their twelve top priorities for action regarding investment, entrepreneurship and job creation.  These will be used in preparation of future EU approaches, but will also be transmitted to decision makers in the region by the European Commission and through the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), and may be updated in the future.

“Following vibrant discussions with so many creative and talented entrepreneurs in the presence of policy makers and financial institutions, we have received a clear list of priority actions. These are important messages for policy makers in Europe, but just as important for decision makers in the region. We will use the outcome of this event in our interactions with the governments and in forthcoming meetings of the Union for the Mediterranean,” said Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

The Commissioner underlined that he hoped the discussion on the priorities for action would continue, saying: “During my time as Commissioner, I have worked to put socio-economic development at the centre of the partnership between the EU and its neighbourhood. Improving opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs is a win-win scenario: young people on both sides of the Mediterranean need economic opportunities to be able to build their own future. We must all work together and listen to the voice of those who are creating employment for the rising generation.”

The event focused on how to: 1. Attract more foreign and domestic investment and improve levels of job creation; 2. Unleash the potential of the private sector, and in particular of smaller enterprises, which create the most sustainable new jobs; 3. Boost talents and skills of young people and promote entrepreneurship and innovation to reduce the high levels of youth unemployment